Businesses Need ‘Professional Selling Skills’ To Thrive

If you’re thinking of investing capital expenditure into your business, first make sure your staff can sell the finished article!

“We are so busy I reckon we need to enlarge the place”. Ahh, a pound for every-time I have heard that said. What usually happens is that a load of money (often borrowed from the bank) is spent doing just that, and what do you know; same amount of customers, same amount of dosh in the till each week, but less and less profit because the interest on the loan erodes it !!

The only difference for the customers? A bit more room to roam around in and prettier wallpaper, same old act, same old products, same old staff behaviour – and all the prices go up a bit to try and pay for it. Result: disaster! There is also ‘the last throw of the dice investment’, which is usually also a disaster!!

Investing capital into any business shouldn’t just be about enlarging the space to trade in, or desperately throwing money at a lost cause. It is much more complex than that. Firstly, a good question to ask is “What outcome do you seek? Pretty sensible to have a number in mind as part of the answer:

  • An extra £2k a week?
  • More diners?
  • More drinkers?
  • More margin?
  • A totally different customer profile?
  • More takings perhaps?


  • How will this target be achieved?
  • How can your staff contribute?
  • Are they up to the task? Do they have the skills?
  • How will my competitors react?
  • How will you market the business once the investment is made?

Ask yourself:

  • Am I changing the offer altogether or just improving it?
  • Are you seeking to attract a different sort of customer?
  • Will the product offer need to change?
  • What are the risks?
  • Will you alienate your existing customers?
  • Will your staff rebel?
  • Will a competitor steal your existing customers?
  • Will it force an unexpected competitor reaction?

The thing is that ALL change has risk! So, in order to minimise the risk you need to be aware of those things that threaten the success of the investment:

  • Will there be an opportunity to raise prices, post-development?
  • Can you introduce higher margin products?
  • What will your new pricing policy look like?
  • Are you on top of your competitor’s pricing?
  • Can you evaluate quickly; GP versus sales price versus cost price and add VAT?
  • How about all those staff questions?

How about your food offer?

  • Do you run precise dish costing exercises for all dishes?
  • Do you control portion sizes precisely (its not about giving small portions, its about giving consistently, priced portions!!)
  • How labour intensive are your dishes to produce?
  • Can you step in and replicate dishes on your menu if Chef throws a wobbly?

So many things to consider before the architect is commissioned and the builders are asked to quote! Once the decision is made then the fun begins! And in my view one of the most important challenges of all, once that fateful new opening day comes; Do your staff have the skills and behaviours to deliver consistent great service to ALL customers? (Nothing worse that a staff member who has favourites), can they influence what customers buy to improve sales and profit?
And then probably the most important questions; Do they understand and practice:

  • Up-selling
  • Selling-on
  • Suggestive selling
  • Assumptive selling
  • Trump-card selling
  • Fear selling
  • Peer selling
  • Trail selling

So you can see that selling really is a science!!

The thing is that if you just want staff to ‘serve’ then they will never enhance your new business in the way they could do if they are TRAINED to SELL. I would never invest a penny piece into any business unless I had absolute confidence that the staff post spend could SELL the new offering. In fact, come to think of it, I would not run a business at all with staff untrained in selling techniques.

It is amazing how many people are scared of selling (I am not talking about pressure selling, door-to-door stuff) rather; much more subtle than that, professional techniques are so clever they achieve a sale without the customer knowing he/she is being sold to! So many people are sacred of selling because of the fear of rejection; it is the ultimate challenge in any business.

Here is a famous story combining selling and customer service extraordinaire…

A man walks into a florist and with a quite aggressive attitude asks the florist to make up a big bunch of flowers because he forgot his wife’s birthday on the previous day.
The florist asks “What’s your wife’s name?”. “That’s unimportant” says the man. “What is her address?” asks the florist. “That’s also unimportant” says the man.”What is your wife’s favourite flower?” Why are you asking me these questions says the man. “Well sir”, says the florist, “if you give me the information, I will put a great bunch of your wife’s favourite flowers together and have them delivered to your house with a loving note from you and an unreserved apology from us that we got the delivery day wrong and that they should have arrived yesterday. If you then subscribe to our annual service, we will send a bunch of flowers on her birthday from you every year”. I guess that you know the outcome.

The point is that the trained staff member at the florists sold a solution to a problem, not a bunch of flowers. So a Benefit was sold, not a Feature. One very happy customer, one very happy wife, one very happy florist, one very happy cash register!!!

So, if you’d like to learn more about how the science of selling can improve your business turnover and profit, why not try our ‘Professional Selling Skills’ course.